Breckenridge’s 2016 budget put funds toward affordable housing
The Breckenridge Town Council will review and discuss changes made to the proposed 2016 budget at its work session on Nov. 10. The council held a budget retreat on Oct. 27 to work out final details of the financial plan.
Mayor John Warner said the council was able to reach agreement on a number of issues.
“The budget didn’t have too many surprises,” he said.
One noticeable change was a decrease in revenue from marijuana sales. The 2015 budget had $789,000 from the marijuana fund transferred into the childcare fund, but in 2016 that figure drops to $196,000.
Warren noted that marijuana sales have been down compared to prior years. Kim Dykstra, director of communication for the town of Breckenridge, while agreeing with the mayor, said the 2015 number is deceiving.
“The 2015 transfer represented two years of net marijuana fund balance moving into the child care fund, at about $400,000 a year in net marijuana tax revenue,” she said. “In 2015 we are seeing a decrease in marijuana tax revenues and are estimating $200,000 annually going forward.”
She also noted the town is making its best educated guess based on limited data from a relatively new industry.
Council member Wendy Wolfe said the retreat made good progress toward reaching future goals to benefit citizens of the town of Breckenridge.
“Workforce or affordable housing was the stated priority,” she said. “Breckenridge is a leader in the county for the creation of workforce housing and yet we are still far from meeting the demand, especially in the rental market.”
During the retreat the council voted to allocate another $1 million from the general fund to the housing fund for the 2016 budget.
“We’re a healthy little town and we agreed to fund extra money,” Warner said.
The council is trying to “think outside the box” on this issue, according to Wolfe.
“We did this to reinforce the priority on housing and to encourage our staff, our community and ourselves to find creative ways to meet the demand,” Wolfe said. “It is really important for Vail Resorts, the business community, the school district and the town of Breckenridge to work together to create bold solutions to our housing problem.”
The council would like to keep a significant portion of its workforce living and working in Breck, which would hopefully feed into a more memorable guest experience.
“That is where we get our ‘real town’ feel,” Wolfe said. “If we lose that, we lose an important competitive advantage, and the reason why most of us chose to live here.”
Other highlights from the budget retreat include $450,000 for design of the Riverwalk Center lobby improvements, with an additional $130,000 for upgraded light and sound rigging. Dykstra said this would allow for improved production quality.
The council also approved designating $150,000 for planning future improvements to the Breckenridge Recreation Center.
The town also decided to apply for a $350,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant for the Blue River corridor community development.
Breckenridge Creative Arts, which had requested $2.1 million for 2016 operations, was approved for $1.8 million by the council.
“The $1.8 million figure represents a 20 percent increase in operational expenditures from 2015 levels,” Dykstra said.
Also the town will apply a $2.194 million federal grant in 2016 to facilitate new bus purchases.
Warner said the first reading of the budget would be on Nov. 10 and final approval could occur at the council’s Nov. 24 meeting.
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